Higher open seen for stocks

By CNNMoney.com staff

LONDON(CNNMoney.com) -- U.S. stocks were poised for a positive start Friday after preliminary government figures showed the nation's economy continued to grow for the third straight quarter.

Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures were slightly higher.

Futures measure current index values against perceived future performance and offer an indication of how markets may open when trading begins.

U.S. stocks rallied Thursday after a slew of strong earnings reports. The blue-chip Dow gained 122 points, or 1.1%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also both gained more than 1%.

Economy: U.S. gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, rose at a 3.2% annual rate in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said.

It was the third consecutive quarter of economic growth, but the pace was slower than the 5.6% growth rate in the fourth quarter.

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected a 3.3% rate.

Still to come, a survey on business conditions in Chicago and its surrounding areas is due to be released after the open, as is the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index.

Companies: Stocks to watch include Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), which reportedly is the target of a criminal investigation by federal prosecutors. Shares fell 3% in premarket trading.

Continental (CAL, Fortune 500) and UAL Corp.'s (UAUA, Fortune 500) United Airlines are also in focus after the Wall Street Journal reported that the two are close to a merger deal.

World markets: European shares posted early gains. Germany's DAX rose 0.7% in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 and the CAC 40 in France edged higher about 0.1%.

Asian markets also pulled out a gain. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 1.6% and Japan's Nikkei climbed 1.2%.

Other markets: The dollar was down versus the euro and was little changed versus the yen. It fell against the yen.

Oil prices fell 56 cents to $85.67 a barrel. Gold prices were up $6.40 to $1,174.80 an ounce.

Bond prices rose, with the yeild on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond at 3.74%.  To top of page

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.30%4.34%
15 yr fixed3.72%3.76%
5/1 ARM4.08%4.26%
30 yr refi4.28%4.31%
15 yr refi3.69%3.73%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
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Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,946.51 72.85 0.29%
Nasdaq 7,481.99 0.25 0.00%
S&P 500 2,752.01 4.68 0.17%
Treasuries 2.85 0.02 0.78%
Data as of 6:03am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Chesapeake Energy Co... 3.06 0.04 1.32%
General Electric Co 14.31 -0.05 -0.35%
Bank of America Corp... 32.17 0.07 0.22%
Ford Motor Co 11.15 0.08 0.72%
Micron Technology In... 60.58 1.74 2.96%
Data as of Mar 16


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